tv BBC World News WHUT September 4, 2012 7:00am-7:30am EDT
the noise, i can't get rid of the connection between the drone and its purpose in life. ok. it's a killing machine. it's spying -- well, they say this one won't be carrying bombs but drones do carry bombs and i know maybe this one can too. but it has cameras. and i don't know what happens to these footages, who's watching, what they do with it. question mark. >> the questions raised in west wales, privacy, noise, safety, a hurdle the industry itself will need to overcome. there are clearly some economic benefits to using unmanned aircraft, but first we'll have to accept the idea of drones flying high above our heads in british skies.
>> now, the olympic motto of higher, faster, stronger, always had one obvious theme, better. this week the london paraolympic games are showing off their talent for some of the greatest disabled athletes but there is now an old debate, should science help those at risk? is it a noble aim to rid the world of mental and physical disability? >> taking control of the evolutionary process to improve the human condition. that is the rash nail of ugenics. >> would be better by far for them and the rest of the community if they had never
been born. >> the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, the holocaust, the mass murderer of the disabled, the forced sterilization of those considered inferior. all took place in the name of ugenics. but can we embrace the problem of ugenics without its totalitarian, by individual choice? [whistle] >> hey. >> the world is about to descend upon london for the paraolympic games. more than 4,000 athletes will compete in 20 different events.
these british athletes are preparing for the competition. the games are a celebration not merely of sport but of the human spirit. a celebration of the greatest disabled athletes on the planet. [whistle] >> good point. >> but 100 years ago, london welcomed around a different gathering. disability was at the top of the agenda, but with a very different twist. it was here on the banks of the tames in the summer of 1912 that the first international ugenics conference took place. this was no fringe event. many of the world's leading politicians and scientists descended upon london to debate, amongst other things, the very simple issue -- how to rid the world of physical and mental disability. the media coverage hinted at a
brighter future, taking advances in our understanding of genetics and breeding to enhance future well-being and reduce disease and disability. churchill attended the conference as did the former prime minister, notables include h.g. wells and canse, a professor of the ugenics society. >> inborn qualities rather than racial qualities. >> professor james moore is an expert on the history of ugenics and its consequences. >> the constituency for ugenics was most professional and middle-class people but ultimately the constituency was future generations. the unborn.
they spared future generations, those who ought not to be born. and nord to do that, -- and in order to do that, the future of the unborn future was really quite easy to convince people that some people would be an infelix. -- and infelix. >> but from these seats, eugenics was quite different. in the hands of the nazi, it was a project not for improving lives but for destroying them. [speaking german] >> the affect of the environment, on human traits was virtually ignored. eugenics was the pretext for eliminating anyone considered intellectually, physically or racially inferior. >> consultants, people who later were honored by the nazis and who wrote the textbooks
that were quoted by adolf hitler and the founders of german racial policy in the 1930's. of course, no one saw that coming then. >> but eugenics survived the end of the second world war. sweden performed more than 62,000 sterilizations of the mentally and physically disabled right into the 1970's and often by force. virginia sterilized 8,000. california 21,000. other programs existed in korea, japan, canada and beyond. this is the covert history of 20th century disability and it hasn't stopped yet. in the last two decades, there have been involuntary sterilizations amongst gypsies in europe and in the native people of peru. [whistle] >> many of the para olympians who will be celebrating in london have the same disabilities as those whose
rights have been violated. but does this mean we should right off eugenics in its totality? we stand at the dawn of a new era where advances in genetic engineering and embryo selection could permit parents to take far more control of the genetic makeup of their children. should the prospect of designer babies be ignored just because of its associations with nazism? >> it's sometimes said because of the nazis embraced eugenics that it must be wrong for us to at least take the idea of improving human beings seriously. now, it seems to me just rather silly to think that things are wrong because bad people do them. so if it is true, with you i think it's doubtful that the nazis made the trains run on time, it doesn't mean it's wicked to try to have a punctual railway system.
there are powerful moral reasons to enhance human beings and indeed human beings are self-improvers. [whistle] >> this conception of eugenics has nothing to do with violating the rights of the disabled. it's about allowing parents to do the best for themselves and their children. but critics see dangers. >> i think sometimes having a disability can make life harder. it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. it just means that some things in life are more of a challenge. >> a british paraolympian has a genetic condition that causes partial sightedness. >> i wouldn't want a designer baby. i think you then take on the responsibility of how that child is when it's born. if you made that decision, it's on your head. when you start meddling with that from the start and playing god with that in that situation you are then responsible.
>> we don't want nature to take its course. nature is a killer. we could not practice medicine if we believed in letting nature takes its course. one of the best definitions i know to frustrate the course of nature. >> the debate over eugenics hinges on an even deeper question, perhaps the deepest question of all -- what gives value to human life? >> life ends the same way for everyone. we all will finish this life at some point. what did you do with it along the way? >> these are children who are healthy. >> eugenics has taken humanity down many dark roads and caused untold suffering, but could the
new eugenics, finally be about to fulfill its promise? >> well, to discuss the issue further, i spoke to john harris, the professor of biometics at manchester university. with us was ian, a british newspaper columnist what he calls the apar thide of what people takes. and kerry, a children's tv presenter who has the lower part of her right arm missing. what do you think of the big moral argument, we need to try to prevent disease andnd prevent disability if it can? >> i think it's more of just a moral argument or judgment. i think it's a human responsibility really. i think all of us are responsible for the future of the human race in one sense. i think if you're going to go
down that road saying we can create the perfect person, what u're doing is then saying, well, unless we match up to this, therefore, everyone else is imperfect in some way. and, you know, it's very foolish to think that we can create an almighty human because, you know, we're human beings as long as we have war, we're going to have disabilities. people are coming back from afghanistan every day maimed in some way or another, and it's like saying, are they also imperfect the same way as people who are born with a disability? and none of us are imperfect. we're just different from what the suggested norm is. >> this has a human face. this isn't just sort of an abstract issue. it is very human. >> absolutely. i don't dissent from everything kerry said. of course she's absolutely right. and i have no interest in the idea of perfection. but it is a serious question as to whether we should try to improve the health of humankind and to improve the health of
our children. if we can do that at a very early stage, if we can make people more resistant to disease, longer lived, healthier, i think that that is something that a good person would try to do. >> i'll come back to you. i want to ask ian about that. i want to ask ian about that. do you think there's